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Red Bull Rising Talent

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

If I had to sum up the experience in three words I would say: very, very challenging.

But I mean that in the best way. As a photographer, or a creative in general, it’s easy to get stuck in a pattern using the same tools, taking the same shots. There’s nothing better than learning a new skill to spark inspiration and creativity. Rising Talent was an opportunity for me to do just that, to connect with new people, and make some dope work!

Red Bull created this program essentially to give young photographers some tools to help build their careers. (Could they be any cooler of a company?!) I was selected along with 3 ladies and 4 gents to participate in this year's US program. On our first day we all presented our portfolios, and I was blown away by the level of talent we had in our little crew. Our group came together quickly with a sense of camaraderie. Often times, photography can be lonely and it was a refreshing change of pace to be surrounded by like-minded creatives.

Pictured from left to right: Will McKay, CJ Anderson, Jorge Henao, Scott Crady, Dean Tucker, Dave Clancy, Anastasia Wilde, Shannon Schultz, Adrian Rudd (me), Nicole Burleson, Marv Watson

Throughout the week we had some of the best names in the business drop in to give a presentation or lead a workshop. We started off with a studio light session from athlete photographer Dustin Snipes. Another day, Michael Clark joined us to give a presentation on business insights where he shared how he grew his business from zero to working for the worlds' biggest brands. In our final workshop, Garth Milan coached us on shooting mountain biking with strobes. And yes, I'm still in awe that I learned from these living legends.

On the first day, we worked with b-girl dancer "Logistx" (pictured) while Dustin Snipes taught us how to work with strobes.

The grand finale of the program was a “photo challenge day” where the skills we learned throughout the week were put to the test. To begin, we were paired off into four teams. Each team was assigned an athlete to work with for one hour (30 minutes of shoot time per person) and then we would rotate until all teams had worked with each athlete. The catch: you received the photo assignment as your 30 minutes with the athlete began.

Challenges were as specific as “take an action shot with a long lens and experiment with foregrounds and angles” or “take a lifestyle shot with a wide angle lens without showing the athlete’s face.” With no time to prepare, these challenges were designed to make us think on our feet and use methods that we wouldn’t typically use to get ‘the shot.’ As an added challenge, most of us had never shot these sports before or knew the correct terminology to communicate our vision, so the images were a full collaboration between the photographers and the athletes.

Below are some of my photos from photo challenge day:

Challenge: Cover an environmental portrait by including the location in the frame.

Athlete: Dan Plunkett.

Challenge: Use your longest lens to create a long distance shot. Play with background and foreground elements to add more dimension. Athlete: Jake Kinney.

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